Susan Brown

The Chosen - Removed

Please note that due to adverse comments and because of the subject matter, I have regretfully decided to delete the story.

I may return to the story at a later time, but at the moment I will not do so.

I apologise to all my readers as I hate not finishing the story which was to be one of resistance and fortitude but I am aware of the current sensitivity about minors in stories and I have taken the decision not to continue.

Hugs
Sue

The Deep Dark Secret

It was on Paddington Station in the heart of London that their eyes met across the crowded platform...



The Deep and Dark Secret


by Susan Brown

The Little Match girl

The Little Match Girl

By Susan Brown

Loosely based on the tale The Little Match Girl By Hans Christian Anderson (1846)

1

It was the night before Christmas Eve.

A small child sat huddled and shivering on a doorstep watching everyone go by.

It was a bitterly cold night and icy snow was on the ground. The wind was whipping up flurries of white flakes that settled on and around the place where the child sat.

Many people walked past the tiny figure, not noticing, not caring. They were wrapped up in their own thoughts, wishes and dreams. Just another street urchin, selling matches, one of many on the streets of London in the year of Our Lord 1844.

The child had long straggly blond hair that had not been washed or cut for many months. She wore a dirty gray dress that was old and torn.The child could not be more than ten years old.

It was getting quieter now and the child painfully and stiffly got up and shuffled home.

Any stranger passing would see a pale thin girl, malnourished and unkempt, but pretty under the grime of accumulated dirt. In fact, the child was not a girl, but a boy named Jack after his departed father.

His family used to live with his grandmother until she passed away. Jack remembered
His grandmother as a kind, gentle soul, always smiling and laughing. Although not well off, Jack’s grandmother lived in a clean house, rented cheaply from her grateful previous employer of whom she had once been a treasured nurse. Unfortunately, when Jack’s grandmother died, the house was no longer available to Jack’s family. Things then went from bad to worse. Jack senior could not keep down a job. He was violent and would pick a fight with anyone and on any pretext. He died as he lived, violently with a single stab wound through his heart.

Therefore Jack now lived with his mother in a ramshackle tenement house near Stoke Newington. The place Jack now called home was a filthy, damp single room, one of many such rooms in the building which housed, (if that was the word for it), a large number of families.

These poor people were at the bottom of the social heap and could not afford decent accommodation. For many such as these, it was the tenement or the workhouse followed quite swiftly to the paupers’ grave.

Jack arrived home and went up three flights of rubbish strewn stairs to his room.

He opened the door walked in.

He did not take in the variety of smells that could have assaulted him. Dampness from the wet walls and mildewed bedding. He ignored the smell of brandy, vomit and urine which pervaded throughout the place that he called home. He was so used to the smells, that he noticed nothing. He saw his mother lying on the bed. Once again she was in a drunken stupor.

Jack was so tired that he just ate the remains of the stale bread that he had stolen that morning. He drank some filthy water from a cracked jug and then lay down next to his mother in the only bed they possessed. There was no heating in the room and it was getting colder. Jack moved against his mother and tried to cuddle her, hoping that the faint heat from their bodies would keep them warm.

Jack shut his eyes and thought about their plight. They could not continue much longer like this.

Jack and his mother had been without his father for two years now. His father had been killed in the drunken attack outside the local pub. Since then his mother had tried her hardest to look after young Jack.

Jack used to have an elder sister until the previous year. She was a consumptive and had died in the very bed in which he lay with his drunken mother. His sister, Emma used to go out selling matches until she became too ill to carry on.

Hence at the age tender age of 9, Jack became the breadwinner of his much reduced family.

Jack and his mother were too poor to buy new clothes and Jack had worn Emma’s clothes for some time. Apart from the fact that it was thought that Jack would sell more matches looking like a vulnerable girl than a boy, Jack had a secret that he would only admit to himself. He believed that he was a girl inside; he always had. After a time, even Jack’s mother in her bemused state, thought that Jack was a girl and forgot that he was born a boy. She called him Sarah. Jack liked Sarah as a name and as he always thought of himself as a girl. We will do the same.

It was strange being in a boy’s body. Sarah hated the fact that she might grow up to be like her father. Although life was harsh, she knew that if she was a girl, she could manage somehow and be like her grandmother, kind, caring, considerate and a joy to be with. Boys were rough and tough. Girls were not expected to be. She knew that the differences between boys and girls physically were not that obvious at her age. Eventually her voice would deepen and she would grow hair on her face. She would then become a man, if she lived that long. Until that time, she would always be a girl.

Despite her upbringing and her current circumstances, Sarah was sensitive, loved her mother and dearly wished that she could do something, anything to reduce their pitiful state into something better. The only good thing in Sarah’s life was that she was able to look like a girl and be considered as one. The previous summer had been warm and it was no hardship walking the streets as a girl and collecting pennies for the matches she had for sale. Sarah’s mother was not so much into drinking then and had given Sarah a nearly new dress to wear. A bit more money was available and Sarah suspected that her mother was seeing men and receiving ‘presents’ from them whilst Sarah was out. Sarah may have suspected but said nothing, she was just happy to be wearing something feminine and having some food in her belly. She just cherished those few short months when things seemed relatively good.

After Sarah’s mother had started drinking heavily, money and callers dried up and they were forced to live off the pitifully small amount of money Sarah could earn. It was not much of a living but it helped put a little food in their mouths.

Sarah finally slept deeply. She woke up coughing. She had a runny nose and was wheezing somewhat where she could not catch her breath.

It was nearly dark outside and she realized that she must have slept the clock around. She reached over for the candle on the floor, lit it with a match and turned around to rouse her mother.

She had not moved from the night before. Sarah felt her cheek. It was icy cold.

‘Mother, wake up.’

There was no answer.

‘Mother, MOTHER!’

Sarah tried to wake her, but to no avail.

‘She must still be with the drink.’ She thought. ‘I must sell some matches for food.’

She got up put her shoes on, picked up her bag of matches and stumbled out of the room.

Back on the bed, Sarah’s mother stirred in her sleep. She was cold and delirious.

Suddenly she sat up in bed.

‘Sarah, where are you?’

She started coughing but could not stop. Her body was wracked in pain as she just could not stop that terrible coughing. She collapsed back on the bed. Her eyes were open. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth and her nose. The light went out of her eyes and she quietly went on to meet her maker, leaving Sarah without anyone in this world.

2

Sarah too was coughing and felt very tired. Her chest felt like it had a band around it restricting her breathing and her throat was so sore that she could hardly swallow. She hurried as fast as she could in her enfeebled state to her normal place of work, next to the toy shop. She often looked in at the gaily lit windows of the shop and at all the wonderful things in there. She could see all the girls and boys looking at the toys and jumping up and down with glee at the wondrous things.

The girls in particular drew his attention. In their pretty dresses and bonnets. They looked so lovely and Sarah often yearned to be like one of them.

However, this day, all Sarah could do was to sit down on the cold steps and hold out her hands to passers by to try to induce them to buy her matches.

‘Matches for sale.’ She whispered. Her voice had gone. People could not hear her.

‘Please buy my matches.’

It was no good; no one was looking at her. As usual at this busy festive time, everyone was busy looking everywhere but at her.

Through bleary eyes, Sarah saw everyone walk past. Only one person stopped in front of her. She looked up and there was a constable, staring at her.

‘Well, child, you should not be here. We’ve had complaints from the shop owner. Move on.’

Sarah got to her feet and feeling strangely light headed, staggered around the corner to the alley and sat down again. She had little strength left. The thin shoes that she had on her feet did little to stop the intense penetration of the numbing cold. They were her mothers’ shoes and were far too large for her.

It started to snow again and the white flakes fell in increasing amounts, blinding out the rest of the world from the plight of the poor little match girl.. The apron in which she carried her matches, was beginning to get damp. So she sat down and put them behind her to stay dry. Just then two urchin boys ran around the corner and one of them cannoned into Sarah.

‘Hey, watch out, stupid girl.’ Said one of the rough boys.

‘Sorry’, she whispered as she tried to get up.

‘Take her shoes Fred that will teach her.’

With that, the boys ran off laughing with her shoes. Her feet were now uncovered and she felt the icy cold snow on her feet.

It was getting darker now and the snow fell even heavier.

Sarah shivered with the cold and loneliness and yet she could see the bright lights of windows above and about her. She smelt the aroma of roast meats cooking in a kitchen so near and yet so far away. She could here the merry tinkle of a piano in the distance and the sound of laughter on this special evening; the night before Christmas.

She wanted to get home to her mother but found that she had no strength in her legs.

After a while, she felt tired and the pains in her feet caused by the cold gradually went away leaving her lethargic and wanting to curl up and go asleep.

Her hands were near frozen now and she pulled a match from her apron. Fumbling with her shaking hands, she managed to strike it on a dry stone from behind her. Suddenly, there was a bright light and the warmth from the match transported her to a big kitchen where she imagined herself to be in a large warm friendly place, sitting by a stove. The heat was wonderful. She was dressed in pink satin dress with ruffles and edged with fine lace. Her feet were encased in fine woollen stockings and she could feel the ringlets of her long fine blond her brushing against her face as she laughed and sang carols with her friends. She was holding a doll, such a lovely thing…

Suddenly, the match went out and the vision left her as quickly as it came.

With shaking hands, she struck another match and she found herself in a brightly lit parlour. There was a long table in the middle of the room covered in a white table cloth, and on it was a wonderful dinner service and more food than Sarah had ever seen in her small lifetime. There were fruits and nuts aplenty. Steaming vegetables were heaped on plates and in the centre in all its glory, a huge goose, the like of which Sarah had never seen.

Then it all was gone and Sarah was back in the alley on that cold night.

Sarah found another match and with hands shaking from the cold, struck it. After the third try it caught and shone brightly. Once again she saw a most wondrous site.

She was sitting beneath a wonderful green Christmas tree. The tree was decorated with candles shiny balls and all manner of things that sparkled and shone by the light of a gorgeous log fire. There were many presents wrapped at the bottom of the tree and three of them were right in front of her. Sarah reached for one of the gaily colour boxes which she just knew was hers and unwrapped the present. Inside was a glorious a warm red velvet dress with petticoats and lace. She could hear herself squeal with delight as once again the lovely vision was snatched away from her and she was back again in the present.

The snow had stopped. She was lying on the ground. She must have slept, despite the cold and the snow. She coughed several times, feeling her chest heave with the effort. Sarah’s breath now came in gasps. She wondered even then in the midst of her own pain, how her mother was.

She struggled to sit up, but found it so very difficult. All was quiet now and there were only a few lights from the surrounding buildings.

Sarah looked up and saw the millions of stars in the now clear sky.

Suddenly she saw a shooting star fall below her sight.

‘Someone is dying.’ She thought in wonder as she remembered her grandmother telling her that when a star fell, it meant that someone was going to heaven. She eagerly lit several matches at once and the glare from the light made her eyes tear and blink.

Suddenly in front of her stood her grandmother and strangely her very own mother! They looked happy and well and beckoned her to come to them. Sarah rose to her feet. She was no longer in pain and ran to the open arms of the only ones that ever loved her. She fell into their warm and loving embrace and knew no more.

3

It was a peaceful evening. The snow muffled many of the noises normal to a large city. Although it was now late, a city like London is never truly asleep.

Jonathon Hampton had been working late at his office. He was a barrister at law. One of the young up and coming barristers who was making a name for himself fighting the injustices of a country which still treated people harshly for minor crimes and imprisoned children for minor theft.

He was hurrying home and stopped at the toy shop to look in at the window. He was still a bit of a child at heart and loved to look at the toys in the window. He sighed and then looked at his pocket watch. He must not be late home. The children had to be read too and his wife would not be happy for him to be late on this night of nights…Christmas Eve.

‘Lord, it’s cold!’ He thought as he reluctantly moved on from the shop.

Jonathon walked by the alley at the side of the shop and glanced to the right as he went across. He saw an indistinct bundle of grey clothes heaped up against the wall. He did not take it in until he saw a tiny glimmer of light by the heap go out.

Jonathan was intrigued by this and he walked down the alley, trying not to slip on the icy surface. He reached what he had originally thought was just discarding clothing and gasped with shock as he realized that it was a little girl. Smoke still smouldered from matches by the side of the girl.

He swiftly bent down and saw in the dim light that the child had an icy blue pallor, especially around her lips. He touched her cheek, it was cold to touch. There was no sign of life.

‘Poor girl. She has died before she had a real chance to live. if only I had seen her sooner’

Tears formed in the corner of his eyes. Although times were harsh and many children failed to live to adulthood, he was shocked and saddened by the sight of the poor little waif.

Just then he felt a shiver go down his spine. Then he heard a groan come from the lips of the little girl.

‘She lives!’ he cried as he picked up the child and ran as fast as he could out into the road. By chance or perhaps on that quiet evening by some divine intervention, a carriage was passing on the otherwise quite deserted road.

Jonathon hailed the carriage that luckily stopped immediately and implored the driver to take them to his home as quickly as possible.

That the driver agreed to do everything to help, was a testament to the kindness that some people can display in emergencies of this kind.

Soon they were heading as fast as possible, considering the conditions, towards Jonathon’s house.

Luckily he only lived about five minutes away and they were soon there.

The driver banged heavily on the ornate front door as Jonathon carried the pitifully light and small child up the steps.

The door opened and the butler was there in an instant helping his master to get the child into the warm inviting house.

4

Sarah opened her eyes. She blinked as the light from the gas mantles shone in her eyes. She looked around in wonder, rubbing her eyes to remove the sleep. The room was large and in a style that she had never before seen. There was a huge fireplace and logs were burning brightly, crackling as they burnt and giving off such a heat that it reached the bed where Sarah lay only half awake.

She yawned and stretched noticing, now that she was more awake, that the bed was huge and covered with fine pristine white bedding. She looked at her arms and saw that she was wearing a fine lacy nightgown, as white as the sheets on the bed.

‘Hello, my dear. You are awake at last.’

Sarah started at the sound of the voice. She looked around and saw a fine lady in a white satin gown sitting over in a corner by one of the lights.

‘H…hello.’ She said timidly. ‘How came I here?’

The lady laughed. ‘You mean how did you arrive here and what has happened to you.’

‘Er…yes ma’am.’

The lady got up, put down her sewing and came over to sit down on the bed by Sarah.

‘First of all, how are you feeling?’

‘A bit tired ma’am and my head aches a little.’

‘I’m not surprised. Do you remember anything about what happened to you?’

‘I think that I fell asleep in the alley. It was cold and I could not sell my matches. I needed some money to buy food and take some home for my mother. Where is my mother? Can I see her?’

The lady took hold of Sarah hand and said. ‘My dear I have bad news for you so brace yourself. My husband found you in an alley. You were close to death .He brought you home. You was very ill, we thought that we might loose you many times before you rallied. In your delirium you called out for your mother and also grandmother. My husband made inquires about you and found out that your mother had passed away on the same night that you were found you have lain here some four days.’

Sarah’s eyes filled with tears as she remembered the falling star and her grandmothers telling her about how it meant that someone was dying. It must have been her mother going to heaven.

Sarah cried into the arms of the lady. She cried for the loss of the only person she had in this world. She was alone now. Sarah knew what it meant to be a child with no family. It meant the living with other destitute children at the orphanage. She had heard stories about those places and how the children were fed next to nothing and treated as slaves. She was used to hardship, but at least she was free. Now she would have to throw herself on the mercy of the parish. But she must go and now before she got used to all this finery and kindness.

She tried to get up. She was so weak.

‘Where are you going, Sarah?’ said the lady with a puzzled voice.

‘I must find the Beadle. He will get me into the orphanage.’

‘You will do no such thing! Do you think that my husband and I would allow you to go to a place like that after all you have been through?’

Sarah saw that the lady looked shocked at her suggestion.

‘What will become of me then?’

‘Don’t worry, my dear, all will be decided soon. I promise on the Holy Bible that you will not be placed anywhere that you would not gladly be willing to go. Now lie there quietly while I call my husband, Jonathon. He expressed a wish to talk with you as soon as you are able.’

The lady swished out of the room, her long dress trailing the ground. Sarah had the impression the lady was upset, as she had noticed a tear in the corner of her eye as she finished speaking to her.

Sarah closed her eyes. She was so sad at losing her mother, but still in shock and perhaps not realising the full import of the terrible news the kind lady had given her.

Sarah concentrated on luxuriating in the softness of the bed and the finery of the long nightgown, whisper soft against her skin and the fact that she was as warm as toast!

She must have fallen asleep as she jerked awake at hearing the door open.

The lady came in, closely followed by a tall gentleman, thin with a fine thatch of jet black hair.

The gentleman came over and smiled down at Sarah.

‘Hello, there. How are you feeling today?’

Very well thank you sir.’

‘That is good. Now if you feel up to it, Caroline, my wife here and I would like to hear all about you and how you came to be in the alley in such desperate straights. Don’t worry, if you wish, nothing will be said of this to anyone outside these four walls.’

Sarah looked at the kind faces and realized that she owed these gentle folk some explanation as to her history.

In a quiet voice, Sarah told the couple about her life. I will not repeat the painful story dear reader, as you are aware of that unhappy child’s upbringing and the tragic circumstances that brought her to this kind couple’s house.

The one thing that Sarah was frightened to mention was the fact that although she always considered herself to be a girl, she was, at least physically, a boy.

As she spoke of her history though, she saw the kindness and compassion in her listeners faces. She decided, in all honesty that they deserved the whole truth. Sarah would hate to embarrass them after saving her from the grave. They may throw her out on the streets but they deserved the truth.

She opened her mouth to say the fateful words but, before she could utter anything, there was a timid knock on the door.

‘Come in.’

A matronly figure came into the room. She was plump, red faced and had a mobcap on her hair.

‘Sorry to disturb you sir, ma’am, but the twins’ wont stop asking if they can come in.’

‘Tell them they can come in five minutes, but they must be on their best behaviour.’

She curtsied ‘Yes ma’am.’

The lady turned to me and said with a smile ‘Are you feeling up to visitors, Sarah?’

‘Visitors?’

‘Yes our twin daughters. They are ten years old, the same age as you. They are a bit of a handful, but their hearts are in the right place. They sat with you for a long time while you were asleep.’
‘Of all things I would like to see them to thank them and both of you for being so kind to me. I don’t know that I deserve it though because…’

There was another knock on the door and it burst open.

‘Can we come in?’ said one child.

‘We will be good, promise.’ said the other.

The gentleman sighed and said, ‘That was a quick five minutes. Come on then, but don’t shout, don’t be naughty and remember, Sarah has been very sick. The doctor said that she needs peace and quiet not noise and mayhem.’

‘We will.’

‘Be good.’

‘Dearest father.’

The twins had a habit of sharing their sentences and it amazed Sarah how they could do that.

‘Hello Sarah,’

‘How are you?’

‘You were awful.’

‘Sick you know.’

They stopped and looked expectantly at Sarah.

‘Erm, I’m very well, thank you.’

‘I’m Emily.’

‘And I’m Charlotte. I’m the eldest.’

‘Only by ten minutes.’

‘That’s why you have wrinkles.’

‘I do not have wrinkles.’

‘Yes you do,’

‘STOP.’ Said the Lady, ‘No more. If you do not keep quiet you will have to leave. Look at Sarah; she is quite shocked at the way you two are behaving.’

‘Sorry, mother,’ the twins said in unison.

Sarah looked on in wonder at this happy family. Even the gentleman was smiling at the way the twins were behaving.

He cleared his throat.

‘Children, Sarah wanted to say something to you.’

‘Um, yes. Thank you so much for looking after me. You are so kind.’

For once the twins looked embarrassed and mumbled something like, ‘That’s all right.’

‘Well, well, well,’ said the lady. ‘That is a first, the twins not having much to say.’

Sarah suddenly yawned and this was picked up immediately by the lady.

‘We are overtiring you. Come on girls, let Sarah have some rest.’

‘But Mother.’

‘Have you told Sarah?’

‘About the.’

‘Big surprise.’

‘No we have not. She will know soon enough tomorrow when she feels stronger, now out with you both.’

With that the girls left, promising to see Sarah in the morning.

The lady and gentleman came over to the bed again.

‘Don’t worry about the twins, they take some getting used to,’ said the gentleman, ‘You must get some sleep now,’

Sarah began to get upset. She had to tell her secret now, while she had the courage.

‘What is wrong, Sarah?’ said the Lady, her face full of concern, ‘Are you in pain? Jonathan, fetch the doctor!’

‘No, no, please I am not in pain, it’s just…’

‘What is it my dear?’ said the lady sitting on the bed holding Sarah’s thin little hand.

The gentleman sat on the other side of the bed. Sarah looked at them both, swallowed hard and said in a voice barely above a whisper. ‘I am a boy.’

The lady looked puzzled.

‘Pardon, dear, I didn’t here you.’

Sarah cleared her throat and said in a quiet voice, ‘I was born a boy.’

The gentleman said, ‘why, er how do you think you are a boy, Sarah. Are you delirious? I shall get the doctor.’

‘NO, please let me explain. You have been so good to me. I need to tell you and have no secrets from you. Even if you cast me onto the streets. I was born a boy. My name was Jack. I have always believed, even when I was a small child that I was a girl. I could not understand why I was dressed in boys clothing and called he instead of she. Because we were poor, I got to wear my poor dead sisters’ clothes. She sold matches for us whilst my dear mother looked after me. When she died it was my turn to sell the matches as my mother was often too ill to walk the streets. That was where you found me in the alley. I was trying to earn some money for food and was dressed as a girl, the girl I believe that I am.’

Sarah knew that she was rambling and this upset her more. She sounded as if she was mad. Why could she not put into words her feelings about herself? She started crying uncontrollably.

She felt the arms of the kind lady enfold her in a soft embrace.

‘There, there, my dear, don’t worry, you are safe with us.’

‘But, what about my looking like a boy, though am a girl inside?’ Whispered Sarah, afraid of the answer that surely must be given.

‘My dear, I have brought up two girls and am one myself. I think I know what a girl looks like.’

Sarah fell back onto the pillows.

‘You do not believe me.’

‘I believe that you have gone through an experience that no girl should and you do not remember things.’

‘I can prove that I am a boy.’

‘Don’t stress yourself dear. Jonathan go fetch the doctor. I am concerned about her heightened colour.’

Jonathan left the room swiftly before Sarah could say anything.

‘Please ma’am, let me prove I am telling the truth.’

The lady looked at Sarah with concern on her face. She could see that Sarah would not rest until this was settled.

‘Very well, my dear. How is it that you think that you have a boys body.’

Sarah looked embarrassed as she whispered. ‘I have a boy’s penis.’

‘What!’

‘I have a boys penis,’ said Sarah more strongly, glad to be finally rid of her secret.

The lady looked incredulous, and then smiled slightly.

‘Sarah, pull down the bed covers.’

Sarah knew that this would be the final moment of truth. She did as she was told.

‘Now pull up your nightgown to your chin. I will look away.’

With trepidation, Sarah slowly pulled up her nightgown, closing her eyes tightly as she did so.

‘Look,’ she said, not daring to peep at the expression on the lady’s face.

Sarah heard a rustle as she could feel the lady turn around.

‘Oh, my dear, I didn’t know.’

Sarah snapped open her eyes.

Your poor leg, does it hurt?’

‘Leg? Hurt? What does she mean?’ thought Sarah in confusion.

She looked down at her leg and saw that it was badly bruised. Then Sarah looked further up to her groin region and saw that it didn’t look right. There was nothing there except a slit where her penis and other bits should have been!

Everything went dark as Sarah fell into a dead faint.

5

Sarah woke up and it was nearly dark. There was a candle flickering in the corner of the room. The Lady was sitting there with her head down, needle and thread in her hands, perhaps concentrating on a small cushion on her lap. Then Sarah noticed that the lady was asleep as her eyes were closed.

Sarah then remembered with a rush what had happened. She had lost her penis. Perhaps it had happened when she got ill and the doctor had taken it away. But that didn’t make sense. The slit that she now had did not look like a wound and anyway, would it not have been covered in a bandage or something?

Sarah carefully pulled down the covers and slipped her hand under her nightgown.

She touched the place where her penis had been and just felt the slit in its place. She took her hand away quickly.

‘So,’ she thought in wonder, ‘it wasn’t just a dream. But what does it mean?’

Sarah had a tickle in her throat and could not avoid coughing.

The noise woke the lady with a start. She looked over at the bed and noticed that Sarah was awake.

‘Hello, sleepy, feeling better?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

The lady put her sewing down and went over to the bed, sitting down beside Sarah.

‘Now, my dear, you had us all worried but the doctor said that you were suffering from shock and lack of decent food. He has given me some nasty smelling medicine to give you in the morning as a pick me up. Don’t worry; I’ll give you a sweet afterwards.’

Sarah looked up at the Lady and said, ‘I don’t understand. I am a boy outside but a girl inside. But now I look like a complete girl.’

‘Are you still worried about that? Don’t be. You have been ill and ill people say funny things. Now can you promise me something?’

‘Yes ma’am, anything. You have been so kind.’

‘All right Sarah. I want to promise me that you will never ever say that you were once a boy and that you will enjoy with all your heart the blessings that God has given you and try to be the best girl possible.’

‘That is easy ma’am. I am a girl and I am happy to be one for ever. I only wish that my mother could see me now and be happy that I am safe.’

I am sure that she looks down from heaven as we speak and knows that you are well looked after and happy. Now go to sleep and tomorrow, if you are well enough, you will get up and have a nice surprise. Goodnight dear.’

With the lady kissed Sarah on the forehead and tucked her in.

Sarah’s eyes closed and she knew no more until the morning.

6

Sarah felt a gentle nudge on her arm. She woke up to see a girl in a maids dress standing over her.

‘Are you ready to get up Miss?’

Sarah yawned and stretched. She felt so much better that morning. A bit stiff, but not much, also she could breath much better and not feel that tightening around her chest .

‘I am feeling well, thank you.’

‘Madam has asked me to help you get dressed.’

‘I can get myself dressed.’

The maid looked shocked.

‘Oh no Miss, that won’t do. My job is to help you. Now up you get. There is water in the washstand. Would you like me to wash you?’

‘Er, no thank you I can do it myself.’

Sarah stood up rather suddenly and felt a little light headed. The maid held her arm to stop her from falling.

‘Steady Miss. Let me help you today and then you can wash yourself tomorrow.’

Sarah did not complain and went over to the washstand, aided by the kind maid.

‘Let me help you with your nightgown, Miss.’

In no time, Sarah was naked and being washed vigorously by the maid, who was careful not to be too rough on the still delicate and bruised body of the young girl. The maid loved to talk and she didn’t stop chattering away as she helped the bemused child.

Sarah was paying little attention to what was being done to her as she still could not understand what had happened to her body.

‘There Miss, all clean. You look painfully thin Miss and those bruises. My they look sore. Are they sore? I’ll be careful not to rub them. My mother swears by the recipe her grandmother gave her. Brings out bruises and mends broken bones and cures the colic, she says. Now what shall we wear?’

Sarah came out of her reverie and said, ‘I have a gray dress but I don’t know where it is.’

‘That thing. Oh it’s been thrown out. Dirty it was and torn. I don’t know how you could wear something like that.

‘It was the only dress I had.’

‘Ooh, you poor thing. Anyway Miss Emily and Miss Charlotte have both said that you can wear some of their things until you can get your own. They are lovely children, though if I may make so bold, a bit of a handful and they talk funny.’

‘I know what you mean, they finish each others sentences.’

‘That’s right. Mind you, they are a bit mischievous. They keep swapping clothes and no one knows which is which.’

‘Right, now we can get you dressed. What colour do you like?’

‘My favourite colour is pink.’

‘Will you trust me to choose for you today?’

Thank you, that will be nice.’

‘I won’t be a moment.’

A few minutes later the maid came in with an armful of clothes.

‘We must hurry. The master has said that we have just fifteen minutes until breakfast.’

The next few minutes were like a dream to Sarah as she put on layer after layer of clothes.

The maid, who it transpired was named Jane carried on chatting whilst assisting Sarah to get ready.

‘First your stockings. Sit on the bed while I pull them up. That’s good. This is a nice camisole top and look at these fine drawers. Look at the broderie anglaise and cotton crochet trimming and lovely pearl buttons. Let me help you with these crinoline petticoats. Aren’t they fine and pretty? Now the dress. Petty pink satin for a lovely little thing. Over your head. That’s it. I will do up the buttons on the back. My, isn’t there a lot. Now the pink bow around your middle and tied up as neat as can be. Now sit at the dressing table so that I can brush your hair. My you have lovely fine blond hair and so long too.’

Sarah looked at herself in the mirror. She could not remember that her hair was that long and it certainly was not blond, more of a mousy brown before. Then she looked at her dress. She looked so pretty and the pink satin sort of shimmered in the light of the morning that shone through the windows. It reminded her of the dress she saw in her dreams after lighting a match in that horrible alley. Her nose was not so long and pointed up slightly, like a button. Her eyes looked somehow larger and her lips were full and red. She realised that she now was a girl in the truest sense of the word. It was her dreams come true. Her prayers had been answered. She was a girl and a very pretty one too.

Jane helped Sarah into a fine pair of black patent shoes and in no time she was walking down the stairs on the arm of Jane.

It all felt so strange in a wonderful sort of way. She was aware of her clothes all of the time. The whisper softness against her legs. The feel of silk and satin invaded her senses. Her hair, long with lovely ringlets brushing against and shaping her face, making her feel so much more a girl than she had ever done before.

A door opened downstairs and a man came out carrying a tray with plates on it.

‘Good morning Miss, I trust that you feel better.’

‘Er yes sir.’

‘Oh, please don’t call me sir, Miss. I am Jenkins the butler and I answer to that name. May I open the door to the breakfast room for you?’

‘Erm, yes please, sir er Mr Jenkins.’

Jenkins smiled, shook his head slightly and went over to some large double doors. Sarah and Jane followed the butler. Sarah could hear talking and laughter coming from inside the room.

Jenkins then put the tray down on a small table and opened the doors.

The talking and laughter stopped as Jenkins went into the room.

‘Miss Sarah.’ He announced.

7

Sarah felt very nervous as she walked past Jenkins and into the brightly lit room.

She gasped she looked around the room. It was huge and so much like the room in her dream. There were Christmas decorations everywhere. Candles were lit in all corners of the room. A chandelier was magnificently bright with twinkling lights and even though it was daytime, the light was dim outside compared to this wonderful bright room.

There was a long dining table with a bright white table cloth covered with many different foods. The silver plates and cutlery glistened and shone in the reflection of the many lights.

Pride of place, toward the back of the room stood the biggest Christmas tree that Sarah had ever seen. Sarah gasped. It was THE tree. She could not understand what was going on. Was she still in the dream? Was it possible that she was still in that alley, freezing to death and this was all part of the same dream?

Sarah decided that if this was a dream, she never wanted to wake up. Sarah’s reverie was broken by what was going on by the lovely tree.

The twins were standing there, all grinning, giggling and jostling each other. The Lady and Gentleman came over to Sarah, quickly followed by the twins.

They all said together, ‘Merry Christmas, Sarah!’

Sarah was overwhelmed.

‘But, but, but, it’s not Christmas anymore.’

One of the twins, Charlotte or was it Emily said. ‘Mother and Father said that as you were too ill on Christmas day to have any fun, we would have another one just for you,’

Sarah had the best day of her short life.

After a wonderful breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, kidney and other mouth watering things, the girls played games like pass the parcel and pin the tail and then there was singing around the piano until the marvellous Christmas dinner. Goose and all the trimmings. The Gentleman carved the meat and it was so succulent that it melted in Sarah’s mouth.

After the Christmas dinner, everyone was too bloated do anything strenuous The Gentleman was sleeping and snoring slightly in a deep chair over in the corner. Sarah was feeling tired, full and very contented. She looked up and saw the twins go over to their mother.

The twins started whispering to their mother and pointing to Sarah. The Lady smiled and nodded to them.

Charlotte and Emily came over to Sarah, took her hands and led her to the Christmas tree.
Under the tree were three parcels.

‘All for you Sarah.’

‘We had our Christmas.’

‘Presents on Christmas day, but.’

‘You was ill, so.’

‘These are yours.’

Sarah knelt down at looked at the lovely colourful packages.

‘All for me?’

‘Yes.’ Said the twins together.

‘You should not do all this for me.’

‘Don’t worry, you deserve it and anyway the giving of presents is almost as much fun as receiving.’ Said the lady who had come up behind Sarah with her husband to watch the unwrapping.

Sarah said no more and unwrapped the smallest of the presents. It was a beautiful doll with blond hair, just like hers and wearing a pretty pink satin dress.

Sarah hugged the doll and said thank you a thousand times before being none to gently reminded by the excited twins to open the other presents.

Sarah sat her doll on the floor and opened up the next largest present. It was a bonnet. It was white and had a pink ribbon to tie it on with. Sarah had never seen such a pretty bonnet and it was all hers!

After more thank you’s she opened the final present.

It was a large flat box. Sarah opened it carefully, knowing by premonition if you like what it would be. It had to be…. Yes it was… a gorgeous red velvet dress. It was soft and fine and had a lovely lace collar. The sleeves and hem also had lace edging and it was the most wondrous dress that anyone could have.

Sarah forgot the strange feelings about being there before and hugged everyone. Tears of joy fell down her face and it’s true to say that others in that room were touched by Sarah and had wet eyes too!

After tea and more singing and games it was time for bed.

Sarah was helped by Jane to get undressed and into her nightgown. Her hair was brushed a hundred times by Jane and then, finally she was in bed, with her doll tucked firmly under her arm.

After Jane left the Lady and Gentleman came in to say goodnight and have a talk with Sarah.

They sat on the bed one each side.

‘Thank you so much for everything you have done for me. I know that this is a dream or perhaps this is Heaven but whichever it is, I am so happy to have enjoyed everything so much’

The lady smiled and said, ‘you deserve it, my sweet and this is no dream. You are here, with us. Do you feel this?’

The lady pinched Sarah on the arm.

‘Ouch! Yes ma’am.’

‘Sorry to hurt you dear, I’m sure that felt real enough and not a dream. You will go to Heaven, if you stay as good as you are, but not before your time. Now Jonathan has to say something to you but we do not know whether to leave it until tomorrow. We know that you are worried about your future so we have decided to tell you now.’

‘What is it?’ said Sarah, worried now and not a bit sleepy.

‘Sarah.’ Said the gentleman.

‘Yes sir.’

‘Do you remember talking about your past and in particular, your grandmother?’

‘Yes sir. I Miss her.’

‘I am sure that you do. And do you remember telling us that she used to be a nurse to a large family?’

Sarah nodded. A frown on her forehead showing that she was not sure where this was going.

‘Well, after I found you in the alley, I made enquires and as you know, discovered that your mother had died. I made further enquiries, through an investigator and he found out that your grandmother was in fact the Nurse to this family and she lived here for many years. She looked after me and my brothers and sisters when we were young and before we went to school.’

Sarah was silent as she took all this in.

‘The lady spoke up then.

‘Jonathan and I have discussed things, Sarah and we believe that somehow you were destined to come here and live with us. I cannot have any more children for medical reasons and I have always wanted a large family. We have discussed adoption before and now it seems provident that you have come into our lives. It seems therefore to be a good time to ask if you would like to stay with us as our daughter and sister to Charlotte and Emily.’

Sarah could not say anything; she was so choked up with emotion. She just hugged her new father and mother and that was all the answer they needed.

8

Later, just before sleep took her, Sarah thought about all that had happened to her.

She was still confused about her dreams becoming reality. It must have been God’s will that she had an insight into her future and perhaps that kept her alive for those extra moments until she was saved.

She was sad that she could not see her mother again but then smiled as she realised that she was with her grandmother and one day, perhaps with Gods will, many years from now, she would see and embrace them once again in heaven.

For the moment, Sarah had a new family to love, cherish and be with and she looked on the future as bright and happy and above all as a girl!

Through The Window

Through The Window

By

Susan Brown

It was a bright spring morning.

She could see through the window that it was going to be another fine day.

Angela loved looking out of the window and seeing the various seasons come and go.

The window was situated on the ground floor but as the house was on a hill; there were extensive views of the valley below to be enjoyed from it.

In the distance Angela could see the woods where as a child she would go and play with her brothers and sisters. Hide and seek cowboys and Indians and of course, doctors and nurses were played in that wood.

The wood wasn’t so thick now with trees since the terrible storm of 1987. In many places there were gaps that would take many years to fill again.

Beyond the woods Angela could see a glimmer of the sea, sparkling in the morning sunshine.

The pebble beach was another source of endless delight to the young Angela and her family. She smiled inwardly as she remembered when her younger brother Harry, wearing his best Sunday suit, got completely soaked to the skin when a large unexpected wave hit him unawares during one of the many picnics they enjoyed on that lovely beach.

Below the window was the well tended lawns. Many a time Angela had played games on that lawn with her family and friends. One day they were playing cricket and Angela was batting. She normally missed the ball when it was bowled at a fast pace but, for once, she swung and it connected just perfectly. The ball seemed to soar for miles until with a crash it went through the very window at which she was now sitting. Daddy didn’t mind though as he said that even he would have found it hard to hit the ball that far!

The sun was really getting warm now through the window. It gave a promise of the summer to come when, once again children would play in the wood and go down to the beach to search through the many rock pools.

Angela remembered the time when she was about eight or nine when she and her sister Hannah found a fish floundering in a very shallow rock pool. It was silver in colour and must have been nine inches long. It was lying sideways and was gasping as the water was too shallow for it to swim in. They managed to find an old rusty bucket in which to put the fish in and they raced back to rescue it before it died. They sighed with relief when they managed to get the fish in the bucket and release it into the sea.

As a child, Angela had been quite lucky. Being in a relatively well off family, the children had been educated at home and Angela was able to be herself for most of the time. She thanked God for her loving and understanding parents that allowed her to be her real self.

Just in front of the window beyond the old wooden bench were some flower beds and Angela could see that crocuses were in full bloom and many of the daffodils were trying to come out. Tulips would be next and soon the garden would be a riot of colour.

Like the day when Michael proposed to her on full bended knee as she sat on that very bench in front of the window. She said yes of course but it was impossible in that day and age to marry a transvestite.

They had been sweethearts since they had been young children and it was considered only a matter of time before he would pop the question. The only surprise about the proposal was that he had taken so long to make it and they were relatively long in the tooth before he plucked up courage. She had given him enough hints about her wanting to marry him after all! They planned to move abroad to a place where no one knew them, where the laws were not so strict about these things, even though Angela was as feminine as she could be and her enlightened family had treated her as such for many years, England in the early Nineteen Hundreds was not the place to be if you did not conform.

It was getting late in the afternoon now.

The sun was lower in the sky and the shadows of the trees were lengthening on green lawn. The clouds in the sky reflected the red glow of the waning sun and as Angela looked at the strange shapes of the clouds, she saw some birds cross her line of vision. They were swans, honking as they sometimes do in flight and no doubt going on to some far away lake or pond to spend the night.

Of course, the horrid war got in the way of marriage plans as everyone was sucked into the horror of the conflict. Plans were put on hold and priorities changed as Britain fought desperately to keep her freedom.

Somehow, the birds flight reminded Angela of the time, toward the end of the war, when her Michael flew off on a bombing mission at the not so tender age of 34. He was on his final tour of duty. His plane came down somewhere over the channel on the way back from Germany. He and his crew were never found and to this day Angela hoped and prayed that he didn’t suffer and was waiting for her in Heaven. She put her hand to her throat, feeling the locket in which there was a black and white photo of her Darling together with a lock of Michael’s hair. She always wore it as a constant reminder of her love.

It was getting quite dark now and the lights were coming on in the village in the far distance. It was in that village that Angela’s niece Sarah and her husband now lived. Sarah was Angela’s only niece and was always a source of fun and laughter throughout childhood. Sarah was a child who lived life to the full, had a natural sense of humour and was a wicked practical joker. She once put drinking chocolate in the jar used for gravy and ruined Sunday dinner. Of course she was sent to bed without any dinner but she didn’t seem to mind as she hated roast dinners anyway.

Sarah was always a great comfort to Angela when she lost Michael and she was eternally grateful for being lucky enough to be blessed with being so close to such a wonderful and loving child. Sarah had five children of her own all now grown up and Angela was a great aunt to many lovely girls and boys and loved it when they came to visit.

The moon was full, casting an eerie shadow across the lawn. The countless stars were shining and winking in the now cloudless sky. In the distance Angela could the plaintive hoot of an owl as it started its nightly exploration of the shrouded woods.

The light came on the room where Angela sat making her blink at the sudden glare.

‘Come on Angela, time for bed.’

Angela was taken in her wheel chair over to the bed and was helped into it by her two carers Molly and Jane. They were sweet children but Angela wished that they would stop treating her like a child. lt was true that since her stroke she had become a little restricted in what she could do, but even so, it would be nice to be treated with a little dignity in her old age. After all her body may be weak but her mind was as strong as it ever was.

Angela was soon settled down in bed and the light was switched off. Before peaceful sleep engulfed her, Angela reflected that although she had not always been lucky in life, she had received the love of a good man, if only for a short time. She felt doubly lucky in as much as she had a lovely family, all of whom would hopefully be visiting tomorrow, as it was her birthday.

Angela went to sleep looking forward to tomorrow. A tomorrow when she would sit by the window and see once again some happy children playing on the lawn where she had once played and made love.

She had accepted her frailty but gave thanks that her mind was able to take her back to those times when she could run and play with her family in the garden; swim in the sea and scamper over the rocks trying to find tiny crabs and fishes. Times when she could hold the hand and experience such sweet kisses from the man she loved; then, now and always. Those wonderful experiences were as fresh in her mind now as it was then. Yes she was lucky.

Although her life was severely restricted, she hoped with all her heart that the many members of her family would be as contented with life as she was when they too were celebrating their eighty-fifth birthday.

THE END.

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Home Alone 5


HOME ALONE 5

By
Susan Brown

I hope you liked part 4 and you like part 5 even more.

Please leave feedback as it encourages me to continue.


I pushed the doors open and hesitantly walked into the shop.

It wasn't a very large shop. But on all sides of me I could see racks of school
uniforms, in all colours of the rainbow.

On the right were all boys clothes and on the left the girls section.

I walked to the rear of the shop, where there was a long counter and two ladies
standing and looking at me coming towards them.

They both smiled. That was a good sign, wasn't it?

Home Alone 4


HOME ALONE 4

By
Susan Brown

I hope you liked part 3 and you like part 4 even more.
Please leave feedback as it encourages me to continue.

Part 4

I was sweating all over. The nightmare was terrible. I was in the burning wreck of a
car. My Mum and Dads car. I couldn't get out. I kept beating at the window as the
flames licked closer and closer. I could feel the searing heat on my skin. I could smell
the stench of petrol.

I woke up suddenly, screaming.

Home Alone 3

I had a funny dream. I seemed to be in the car and there was a funny smell. I looked down at myself and I saw that I was wearing boys clothes! That wasn't right I was a girl and anyway the clothes smelt horrible. I took the smelly boys clothes off. As I did so I noticed that Mum and Dad were asleep in the front of the car. We must have pulled over for a break or something. Anyway, I needed to go to the toilet before I wet myself. It wasn’t raining, so I got out of the car.

Home Alone

Main book page for Home Alone

Home Alone 2

I couldn’t believe it...

It was me, but me as I had never seen myself before.

I was so very young, but even I could tell, looking at the girl in the
mirror with the wide eyes and a silly grin on her face, that I was actually
looking at what my sister would look like. The sister I never had. But, believe
it or not, it was ME!!

Home Alone 1

How do I start?
I suppose the beginning is the best place. The beginning of me, that is.
Some of this I remember, other parts I don’t have any recollection of
and I have pieced together from other people involved. Some of the
facts aren't clear to me even now, all these years later, and for the
sake of continuity, I have included what I think might have happened.
You will have to forgive me if that doesn’t make sense but you will
understand a bit more when you read about what happened.